How to Register a DBA in Arkansas (Step-by-Step Guide)
Are you considering launching a business in Arkansas and unsure of the legal requirements and jargon? One of the most critical steps is registering your Doing Business As (DBA) name, a trade name for your business. Registering a DBA requires compliance with legal processes and naming restrictions. This article will guide you through registering a DBA in Arkansas, including choosing a unique business name, confirming its availability, filing the correct forms, and paying the required fees. We’ll also explore the different registration procedures based on the type of business structure, such as sole proprietorships, LLCs, partnerships, and corporations.
What is a DBA?
DBA is an acronym for “doing business as,” which refers to companies or individuals who operate under a name that differs from their legal name. Registering for a DBA is a solution for companies that want a more marketable trade name. It allows a business to market itself under a different name while still being legally responsible under its legal name.
For instance, if John Smith owns a sole proprietorship offering financial services, he can register a DBA name, such as “Financial Services by John,” to market his products and services instead of using his own name.
The process for registering a DBA varies by state, but the protocol is usually:
- Choosing a unique business name
- Confirming its availability
- Filing the proper DBA forms with the relevant agency, such as the Secretary of State or the county clerk’s office.
- Paying the filing fees
Arkansas DBA name registration
In Arkansas, it is mandated that every sole proprietor, LLC, partnership, and corporation must submit a DBA application.
Different types of businesses have different filing processes in Arkansas. Suppose your business doesn’t have a formal structure and is a sole proprietorship or general partnership. In that case, there are different steps to take instead of acting as a formal business entity like an LLC or corporation.
Choose your name
Although the DBA filing processes are different, the naming requirements for both formal and informal business structures are similar.
It is important to review the Arkansas naming requirements. In Arkansas, you must not use the following words in an assumed name:
- Words that could confuse your company with a government agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.)
- Words that signify your company is established for an unlawful purpose.
- Words that may be restricted (e.g., Bank, Attorney, University) would need extra paperwork and a licensed individual to be a part of your business.
Check name availability
Once you have checked that your name is unique, we recommend buying the web domain for your DBA name. This is a great marketing tool, and buying the web domain will prevent others from being able to use it while you set up your business.
Register your name
As a sole proprietor or general partnership
You must file an assumed name registration with the county clerk where you intend to operate.
Every county has a slightly different process. You can find the complete list of county clerks using the Arkansas State Association of Counties database.
We have written an example of Pulaski County.
- Search in the Pulaski County assumed name database to double-check that the DBA name you want to use is available.
- Download and fill out the Assumed Name Certificate form.
- Submit the completed form to the Pulaski Circuit/County Clerk in person or by mail.
The filing address is:
Pulaski Circuit/County Clerk,
401 W Markham St, #100,
Little Rock, AR 72201.
Consult the Arkansas State Association of Counties database for the appropriate county clerk and any additional requirements.
As an LLC or corporation
The following business types must establish a DBA with the state’s Secretary of State:
- For-profit and non-profit corporations
- Professional corporations
- Professional associations
- Limited partnerships
- Limited liability partnerships
- Limited liability companies
- All foreign filing entities
To operate in a particular county, an LLC or corporation must also provide a copy of the Fictitious Name Application to the corresponding County Clerk.
- There are two options available to file for a fictitious name. You can either file online or print a copy of the Application for Fictitious Name.
- When filling out the application, you must provide your desired DBA name and relevant information about your business, including the owner’s entity type, a business description, and the business address.
If you are filing in person or by mail, use this address:
Arkansas State Secretary of State
Business Services Division
1401 W. Capitol Avenue, Suite 250
Little Rock, AR 72201
Pay your filing fees
As a sole proprietor or general partnership
The fee is $25.
As an LLC or corporation
If you are an LLC or corporation, the cost for filing a DBA is $22.50 when submitted online, while it is $25 if filed by mail or in person.
For partnerships, the fee is $13.50 when filed online and $15 if submitted by mail or in person.
Renew, amend, or withdraw your DBA
- DBAs registered in Arkansas do not have an expiration date.
- If you wish to modify your DBA, you must file a new registration and pay the original fees.
- You must complete the Cancellation of Fictitious Name form to cancel a DBA.
- The costs of cancellation vary depending on the type of entity:
- For-profit and non-profit corporations: $25
- General and limited partnerships: $15
- LLCs: $25
- LLLPs and LLPs: $15
- Contact your county clerk for specific instructions to change your Sole Proprietorship DBA.
Obtain an EIN
An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a nine-digit number issued by the IRS to identify your business for tax purposes.
It is important to recognize that your DBA name does not create a new legal entity. If the original company had an established EIN, you would not need another one for DBAs.
Not all businesses need EINs. A sole proprietor can use their social security number as their tax id.
However, you must get an EIN to hire employees or open a business bank account.
You can apply for an EIN online for free on the IRS website. The process is simple and typically takes less than an hour to complete.
You may also need to apply for additional licenses. Check with the Arkansas Secretary of State’s website or the Arkansas Small Business Administration office to determine the specific licenses and permits required for your business.
Open a business bank account
Opening a separate bank account for your business will help you keep up with your finances and simplify your accounting.
To open a business bank account, you’ll generally need to provide your business registration documents, identification, and proof of address. Shop around to compare different bank offerings and find one that suits your business needs.
Advantages and disadvantages of a DBA
There are advantages to registering a DBA:
- Flexibility: A DBA name can be changed or updated more easily than a legal business name, giving business owners more flexibility to adapt to changes. Business owners can also use multiple names to target different markets or products.
- Separation of personal and business finances: A business bank account can be opened once you have a DBA, which allows you to use your startup’s name on bank transactions. This enables you to receive and issue checks under your business name. It also allows you to separate your personal assets from business costs.
- Increased marketing opportunities: A well-chosen name can be more descriptive and memorable than a legal name.
- Cost-effective alternative: Compared to other business structures, such as Limited Liability Companies (LLCs), registering a DBA is typically less expensive and less complex, making it a cost-effective alternative for small business owners and entrepreneurs.
There are a few disadvantages to registering a DBA:
- Limited liability protection: Unlike other business structures, such as LLCs, DBAs do not provide personal liability or legal protection, meaning that the business owner is personally responsible for all debts, obligations, and lawsuits related to the business.
- Increased legal and administrative burden: Using a DBA name requires registering the name with the relevant government agency and following all legal requirements, which can be time-consuming.
Who needs a DBA?
The following groups can benefit from registering a DBA:
- Sole proprietors: Individuals who own businesses don’t create a separate legal entity. A DBA allows them to use a different name for marketing their products or services and gives them more flexibility to adapt to changes in the market.
- Partnerships: Joint ventures between two or more individuals who want to operate under a different name than the partners’ names. Partners can file a DBA to represent their partnership and increase brand recognition.
- Corporations: Businesses that want to use a name different from their legal name or diversify their business activities under multiple names. For example, if a corporation has a subsidiary that sells software under the name “Tech Solutions LLC,” but it also wants to sell hardware, it can file a DBA for “Tech Hardware” to create a distinction between the two business activities.
Why or why wouldn’t you need a DBA?
You would need a DBA if:
- You intend to operate your business under a name other than your personal or company name.
- You want a trading name that is easier to market, remember, or describe your products or services.
- You are a sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, or LLC and want to conduct business under multiple names.
- You want to test a new product or market without changing your legal name.
You may not need a DBA if:
- You are operating your business under your personal name.
- You are a single-owner LLC that does not conduct business under a different name than your name or the legal name of your LLC.
Can I file a DBA online in Arkansas?
You can file state-level DBAs using Arkansas’s Corporations Online Filing System. Filing options for sole proprietorship vary by county.
How do I change my DBA in Arkansas?
You must file a new registration to change your state DBA name. To make other changes to the registration, such as personnel or address, fill out the Articles of Correction form.
Contact your county clerk for specific instructions for changing your Sole Proprietorship DBA.
If I am not a sole proprietor, do I still need to file with my county?
Yes, you should first file with the secretary of state and, after this, with the county.
What is a DBA known as in Arkansas?
Arkansas DBAs are known as “fictitious names” or “fictitious business names.”
How long does it take to process my DBA?
A DBA takes about four weeks to be processed. There are no options for expedited services in Arkansas.
Do I need to advertise my DBA in my local newspaper?
Arkansas does not require your DBA to be publically announced, but there are many benefits to promoting your new DBA name in a local newspaper.
Does my DBA mean I now have a business license?
No, a DBA does not change your company’s legal status. It is simply a name you can conduct business under. You may need to apply for a business license depending on your business type.
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